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Provides fresh translations and readings of a small, coherent subgroup of short stories that describe how people were inspired to religious commitment


These “revelatory tales” consist of firsthand accounts offered by groups of monks and nuns who tell and listen to each other’s tales in turn, a public sharing that is, in fact, a religious ritual by which means the storytellers hope to confirm their beliefs and strengthen their religious resolve. The tales both provide insight into the popular religious culture of medieval Japan and represent a new approach to the study and categorization of medieval short stories. Their interest, however, is not only historical. Dealing as they do with timeless human tragedy, modern readers may well find them moving and instructive.Rethinking Sorrow is important reading for anyone interested in medieval Japanese literature and culture, in Buddhist didactic literature, and in homoerotic literature. It provides a private, personal look at the religious and literary world of late medieval Japan.

Margaret Helen Childs is Associate Professor of Japanese Language and Literature and Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Her research interest is medieval Japanese narrative literature,

“A significant contribution. Ideal for classroom use.”
—William E. Deal, in the Journal of Japanese Studies

- William E. Deal, in the Journal of Japanese Studies

“Scholarly, useful, and entertaining . . . it belongs on textbook order forms as well as on the shelves of specialists.”
—Janet R. Goodwin, in Monumenta Nipponica

- Janet R. Goodwin, in Monumenta Nipponica

“Professor Childs provides us with new and fascinating insights into the interplay between popular literature and its ideological roots. Rethinking Sorrow is squarely at the intersection of current inquiries into the medieval storytelling tradition and our rethinking of the nature of ‘Kamakura’ Buddhism.”
—Robert E. Morrell, Washington University in St. Louis

- Robert E. Morrell, Washington University in St. Louis

“Childs translates four intriguing tales that contain the confessions of seventeen men and women. In addition to revealing much about life, literature, and religious practices in medieval Japan, these tales are fun to read, and they provide fresh, new material for Japanese literature courses taught in English.”
—Karen Brazell, Cornell University

- Karen Brazell, Cornell University